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Time To Get Off the Dock (Part 2)

Posted on Fri Jan 13th, 2023 @ 9:14pm by Teague Harrington & Clayton Adams & Cassian Grimshaw & Shepherd Harley & Addy Stone & Boney Grimshaw & Juniper Farnsby
Edited on on Fri Jan 13th, 2023 @ 9:15pm

Mission: Ghost Walk
Location: Eavesdown Dock, Persephone
Timeline: Mission Day 48 at 0930

Standing around on the ramp was not the most interesting way to spend the morning; it was more of a necessity if you were looking to hire or take on passengers. And he was. Crew anyways. He still wasn't sure he liked the idea of strangers wandering around the ship even if they were adding to his coffers. Teague watched the crowd, sizing up individuals by habit, looking for the bits of information that would tell him something about themselves. He had been watching a young pickpocket learning his craft when someone separated from the flow and headed in their direction. Tall he was with shoulder-length blonde hair and a pronounced limp. Still, he smiled warmly when he was Sula and angled his approach toward her.

"Sula Fawn," Clayton said as he climbed the ramp. "I return from a relatively successful series of performances, even played in a church once or twice. How've things been here on the Xiao Jin?"

Sula's demeanor changed immediately from her serene, cloistered personality to one much more animated. Her eyes twinkled like a diamond, and her voice to an cheery tilt. "Xiao Jin? Under new management, but still flying along." Her smile became even more playful. "Don't tell me that you're coming back just to see lil' ol' me."

"Of course," Clayton said. He dropped his gear onto the ramp and fished around in a side pocket, producing a package wrapped in plain brown paper. "And ... I come bearing gifts."

The Shepherd looked skeptically at the package. "What exactly did you do, Clay?" she asked, a mysterious smile snaking upwards as her eyes tried to penetrate the brown paper packaging. Looking back up at Clayton she continued in a playful tone of voice, "You could not possibly have known that I would be here or to get something for me.... So, what are you up to, troubadour?"

"So suspicious," Clayton said, smiling in return. "I saw it and thought of you. Took a chance that you'd stay with this crew. Hope you like it."

"You're too much!" Sula exclaimed as she looked at the brown paper packaging and after a moment's hesitation started to carefully unwrap the contents. Concentration was written all over the Shepherd's face as she carefully unwrapped.

"I have been told that," Clayton responded. He turned his attention to the other individual on the ramp. "I'm Clayton Adams. I spent time on the ship. Part passenger and part deck hand because paying your way doesn't get you out of helping with the chores. Or so it seemed anyways."

"Teague Harrington, the new owner." He stuck out his hand and the two men shook. "You looking for passage again?"

"I am," Clayton said. "Perhaps we can work out an arrangement? I don't mind helping out in return for reduced fare. I'm good with a gun, if you need a guard, even if I'm not light on my feet anymore and of course, I'm a seasoned deckhand. Poe saw to that."

"Do you have a specific destination in mind," Teague asked. "We're setting out on a cargo run so our first few stops are already planned."

"Nowhere in particular. I earn coin through my music so wherever you stop is generally good for me. If you land too far away from a settlement, I'd need transportation there and back, but otherwise, I'm willing to go just about anywhere."

"I think we can make a deal then," Teague said. The two men spoke quietly for a few minutes, coming to terms, and at the end shook hands again. "Welcome back to the Xiao Jin. Sula if you wouldn't mind getting him settled in one of the passenger dorms? I can watch the ramp till you get back."

"Not a problem. I'm used to taking care of him," Sula replied with an unShepherd-like giggle. "Someone has to heal all his wounds," she further explained as she finally unwrapped the paper, wondering at what the gift might be.

Clayton made a show of checking himself and turned toward her, his smile slow and sure. "Don't see anything that needs mending," he said, "but, you know, I'm not the expert either."

"The only thing that you're expert on, Clayton, is getting yourself into trouble." She locked her arm inside Clayton's. "So, let me find a place to tuck you away, safe from harm."

"I'm a musician, Sula Fawn," Clayton said as he placed his hand over hers and allowed her to lead him toward the passenger dorms, "so I'm more of an observer than a participant." He grinned down at her cheerfully. "Played my way through more than one barfight over the years ... 'music hath charms' and all that."

"Sure," Sula responded skeptically and with a disbelieving smile. "I swear, Clay, when it comes to trouble, you're more like a magnet than anything else." Yanking on his arm, she continued, "Let's get you settled in."

He planted himself in the corridor then and cocked his head slightly to one side. "Examples, please."

"You're not serious, are you?" Sula asked with a short giggle. "Is this some sort of test to see how much I really remember? Hmm? Let's see, there was that time that you were singing snide limericks at the sergeant who was drunk and making passes at every woman that was unfortunate enough to be within his eyesight. Though, it probably was a bit over the top when you sung, 'There was a sergeant called Dick Thorn, that nobody wished was born, and he wouldn't have been, if his father had seen, that the condom top had been torn.'"

"That," Clayton said, drawing around himself an almost theatrical dignity, "was art, woman. Art." Still, they started moving again and he felt the awkwardness of his movements the way he always did when he was near a beautiful woman. The war had left its scars on all of them. His smiled turned sly and mischievous as he noted, "course, you remembered every word. Might be you have a fondness for troublemakers."

Sula scoffed with mock indignance. "How could I forget with the fight that started afterwards and the number of people I had to put back together?" She then giggled and added, "But it was catchy. I don't think Thorn ever was taken completely seriously again." She looked back down at the present she had just started unwrapping carefully when Teague had interrupted them. "You know, I could finish unwrapping this thing at your quarters. Might keep you from causing a riot here too."

"Yeah, Thorn ain't going to be ruling that bar anymore," Clayton said, a hint of smugness in his voice, as he followed her. He'd seen how Thorn tracked the women and that predatory look that came in his eyes. The limericks had been his way at poking the beast, drawing his attention toward someone more able to fight, and it had worked. Course, he'd made an enemy, but it wasn't the first nor would it be the last. They entered his room and he dropped his gear onto the bed. "So," he said, "what are you waiting for? Go ahead ..."


"He said no."


"He said don't come back."


"He is Kang's cousin, so no."

Boney pulled the list of wanted help away from his nose and gave Cassian a hard stare. "What are we gonna do for work if we can't find none and what work as we can find won't work for us?"

"I don't know." Cassian thrust his hands into the pockets of his woolen trousers and scanned the docks, quietly praying for a miracle. It was slim pickings for honest work.

"Sometimes I wonder how you talked me into running off Albion with you," Boney muttered.

"Me? Talk you into something?" Cassian pressed his hand against his with incredulous disbelief. "I got you out of a sticky situation, Boney, and I've been carrying you ever since. You're welcome, by the way."

"Yeah, outta' the fryin' pan and into the fire," Boney quipped. "We don't got money for a boarding room. If we can't find work, we're sleepin' under the stars tonight."

Cassian's eyes fell on a Firefly. Not quick or flashy but the distinctive profile was hard to miss. What's more is the loading ramp was down with crew seemingly lookin' for folk. Didn't look like the criminal type neither. "Maybe not," he said. "Come on." Before he took two steps, he stopped and turned to Boney. "Don't mess this up," he said, holding a finger in his brother's face.

"Mess what up?" Boney asked, furrowing his brow.

"I'm serious, Boney. We might only get one shot at this." Cassian held his finger an inch above the bridge of Boney's nose. "Don't compliment anyone's fine figure. Don't comment on the shape of the ship. Don't wonder where they keep the liquor cabinet. Don't wonder aloud about anything. Just keep quiet and nod when I tell ya."

"You ain't the boss o' me," Boney protested.

"Someone's gotta' be," Cassian countered, "and today it's me. Now follow my lead."

Pedestrian traffic ran perpendicular to the Xiao Jin's loading ramp which meant it took a few elbows for the boys to get through the sea of people. Cassian broke through first and smoothed over any wrinkles in his dark blue woolen vest that covered his careworn, long-sleeve cotton shirt. On his heels in a dirty leather coat was Boney who shook his fist at someone who hadn't wanted to make way for them.

"Zǎoshang hǎo!" Cassian called to Teague by way of greeting.

Teague nodded and made his way down the ramp to meet them. He had a clear view of the people wending their way past the ship. Most had the look of people with somewhere to go with glances that slid unseeing across the surface of the Xiao Jin and he was fine with that. The street kid who assessed people as a means of survival preferred going unnoticed though at 6'4" that wasn't as easy to do as it once had been. "Ni Hao," he said, his Chinese flavored by his Dyton roots. "I'm Teague Harrington."

"Cassian and Boniface Grimshaw. A pleasure." Cassian gave his most friendly smile.

"Boney," corrected Boney.

Cassian elbowed him under the rib while extending his hand toward Teague. "We're between jobs and reckon mebbe you're hiring. I got flight experience under my belt iff'n your pilot ever wants a day off, my brother here can rig anything you got, and we're both able deckhands."

"Could be we're looking," Teague said as he watched the interplay between the two of them. "Where have you worked before?"

"Born and raised on Albion," said Cassian. "From there we've gone where the work is. Not lookin' to stay on Persephone, so we're lookin' for a crew to sign on with."

Boney stepped to the side and ran his eyes up and down the outer hull. "They ain't tryin' to fly with a Capissen 38 engine," he said to Cassian. "Means the boss here ain't a total idjit."

"Thank you, Boney," Cassian said through gritted teeth with sarcasm aplenty. "I'm sure this boat is in fine repair." His smile faded, shading his face with a tinge of desperation. "Put us through the paces, Mr. Harrington. You won't regret it."

"You know engines," Teague asked turning to the who called himself Boney. He had a sense for things, a way of understanding the clues that people gave off while conversing and such. And it was that inner prompting that led him to question the more disreputable of the two first.

"I'd hope so," Boney quipped. "I've stripped and shipped dozens of them in my day."

Cassian threw another elbow. "That was a lifetime ago. We're... we're reformed now." He absently rubbed his neck where a Shepherd's frock would be. "I'm on my missionary journey, in fact, and we're just looking to earn our way through honest work."

The sound of a small engine cut its way through the crowd coming to a rumbling pause just as Cassian's elbow found his brother's ribs. Addy surveyed the assembled, sizing them up for a moment, still holding her seat behind the mule's controls. "Fuel's secured Captain," she called to Teague, tipping her head backwards to the bed of the small vehicle to indicate her cargo. "Gentlemen," she said then, her voice neutral as she greeted the newcomers.

"Ma'am," said Cassian with a nod. He gave Boney another elbow.

"Goddamit, that better be the last time you hit me or there's gonna be hell to pay!" Boney rubbed his smarting side.

"Say hi to the nice lady," Cassian said, feeling a little sheepish at Boney's outburst.

"I don't need to be told to give a pretty lady her due," Boney said. He turned his attention to Addy and let his agitation melt into a wide grin. "Hi there. I'm Boney. Ignore Cassian here. He thinks he knows better than other folk. Pleasure to meet you, Miss...?"

"Adorabella Wey..." The redhead caught herself and course corrected, but not before the small slip could be noted. "Stone. And it's missus," she clarified with a slight quirk of her lips. "But most folks just call me Addy." She glanced at Teague then, hoping to gauge some sense of whether she should say more or if he'd prefer she get on with refueling.

Boney visibly deflated at the declaration. "Oh..."

"Good to know you, Mrs. Weystone." Cassian stepped forward to draw attention away from Boney's juvenility. "Me and my two-headed brother were just seeing about hiring on..." He glanced at Teague as well. "... if the good Mr. Harrison here is of the notion."

"Harrington," Teague correctly automatically though his mind was more focused on the two before him. "I can offer you the job of pilot," he said to Cassian. "Keep your drinking and your problems off the ship and live by my rules. That work for you?"

"Harrington. Pilot. Right." Nodding his understanding, Cassian tried and failed to hide his excitement. "It does. We'll be the very picture of wholesome pious folk. You won't regret this, Mr. Harrington."

"What kind of boat don't allow drinking?" Boney had enough sense to mutter it under his breath. Beggars couldn't be choosers, and right now they weren't much of a cut above begging. "All right, so we where do we stow our kit?"

"Addy, if you could show them to Morgan's old room," Teague asked. "It's set up as a double, I believe." He turned to the brothers. "We'll give this a try. See how it goes. Cassian, get with me later and I'll go over our schedule with you."

Boney muttered a terse, "Xiè xie," on his way up the ramp ahead of Addy. If he was going to be a deckhand, he might as well take a gander. "Whoa," he gasped. "What a fènkēng!"

"That's a compliment," Cassian said with a sheepish half smile. "Might not sound like it. Just means he looks forward to getting his hands dirty. So I'll catch up with you once we get settled, shiny?"

"I'll be around," Teague said as he waved them forward, into the ship, and turned his attention back to the ramp. As he turned back, he shook his head slightly, lips pressed together and twisted upward slightly to one side, then shrugged it off as he saw the first of their shipments, recognizable by the man directing the effort, coming toward them. "Time to get to work," he said.


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