Arrival at Bright Dawn
Location: Bright Dawn Settlement, Kerry
Timeline: Mission Day 55 at 1945
The sun was already low in the sky as Teague, having taken shifts with Cassian, brought the team to stop in the ruins of the original settlement. There was a bar and a few buildings that seemed to lean into each other, too weathered and beaten to quite stand alone anymore. And what was worse, no sign of life.
Muttering a curse under his breath, Teague jumped down. "We're going to have to spend the night here," he said to the group. "Just too dangerous to navigate those hairpin turns and narrow spots in the dark. Cassian, Sula, why don't you see about settling the horses somewhere protected? Give them feed and water? There's a supply in the wagon. Near the front."
Being assigned to the horses could not have pleased Sula more. She loved the majestic creatures. She gave Teague a small smile of approval, along with a nod and quietly led the horses away, looking for anywhere that might give them some shelter and quiet. The fact that there was nothing but ruins gave Sula pause. She could not trust any of the buildings that were leaning into one another. Perhaps there was still remnants of a fence nearby.
"Might need to rig a picket out of something," Cassian suggested to Sula. "Any scrap that ain't liable to pull up from the ground?"
"I'll manage something," Sula responded, favoring Cassian with a rare smile. "I could never let anything happen to a horse."
[Meanwhile, Back With the Rest of the Group]
"Juniper, if you could some tea going? Maybe a bit of something to eat?" He gestured toward the saloon. "How about we set up in there? We can bunk down overnight and leave at first light?"
"'Course," she answered, fixing a warm smile on Teague. "Might even be a useable kitchen in there. Certainly worth a try." She swung down for the spot where she'd been sitting, standing up on her tip toes to reach the supplies she wanted and, hefting a crate awkwardly over the edge of the wagon, made her way toward the building that Teague had indicated.
Sula had just come back to get the feed and water for the horses. She gave a brief acknowledgment to Teague and then realized that Cassian was now instructed to help with the horses. She tilted her head towards Teague with a disapproving glance. She did not want or need the assistance with the horses.
"Please don't tell me you left those horses outside, "Teague said, crate in hand, as he glanced down the street to where the horses were tied up. "They'll need shelter of some sort for the night."
"Right you are, Captain, but I'll not have some walls come falling down on them either!" Sula responded protectively. "Can't have our friends and transportation getting hurt, lest we get nowhere fast."
"Can't leave 'em tied up to a post all night neither," Teague said. "Figure it out." He turned away from Sula and continued. "Boney and me will get started unloading. We'll put it under the overhang, to the left of the bar entrance, and tie it down a tarp. Cassian, when you and Sula finish with the horses, come on back and help."
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Boney groused.
"Yes, Captain," Cassian corrected. "We'll see it done."
"Good," he said. "Let's get going." It was basically, the same process but in reverse. Unload it all and stack it under cover with the largest, heaviest crates on the bottom and the smaller or more delicate packages on top. He undid the straps that had tied the whole thing down, set them to one side, and got to pulling packages off the wagon bed. Manual labor was something he understood. Excelled at. Back on Dyton, he had always been that kid. Worst. Hardest. Dirtiest. As long as it made him some coin and got him where he needed to be, he was good to go.
Inside the saloon Juniper had made quick work of sizing up the facilities. Wasn't much that could be done for those things as required power, but there was a useable brick oven that could rely on a flame and even a bit of sugar that looked far newer than the establishment itself. Perhaps something that had been left behind by someone traveling through, or mayhap folks were making this theirs with some regularity.
The later thought made her hesitate and she did an extra thorough search of the place again, confirming it didn't appear to have been recently occupied, though certainly there was evidence of folks who may have been passing through since the place was abandoned.
By the time that the rest of the group had finished their chores, Juniper had a nice little set up inside the saloon, complete with a table she'd wiped clean as she could with chairs, plates, and the trail meal she'd packed. A steaming pot of tea took the place of honor at the center.
Poking her head out of the saloon door she called in the direction of the wagon. "Dinner's up. Get it while the tea's still hot!"
The work outside went quickly enough, specially with the chance of food and a cup of tea in the offering, and before long the crates were neatly stacked on the porch beneath a tied-down tarp that, hopefully, would protect the shipment from any weather that might set in before it was picked up. Strange, Teague thought, to leave it all out here in the middle of nowhere. Without the extra fee, I'd rather have left it all back at the old settlement. Well, at least its done. One uncomfortable night and we'll be back to the ship tomorrow."
"Got anything stronger than tea?" Boney asked.
"Captain said no drinking on the job," Cassian chided.
"But it's gorram cold out here!" Boney protested.
Juniper smirked at the exchange, adding only, "You snubbing my tea Boney?" even as she poured cups of the steaming liquid for each person as they entered the saloon.
"Don't be shy," she said, motioning to the trail meal. Some bread, dried protein, and a bit of seasoning she'd packed to be safe. There was imitation fruit leather too, a bit fancier than the protein but, meant to keep everyone healthy. She'd splurged a bit on that one when they'd last stocked up. "Food ain't gonna serve itself."
"Thank you," Teague said as he took his share and settled in on the nearest patch of floor. He ate with efficient grace. His manners, surprising in someone who had known so little kindness in his life, were always the same, no matter if he were sitting in a group or, like now, by himself. He looked over the group, settling in and eating, and added, "we'll be here overnight. Soon as there's enough light to see, I want to be back on the road."
The shepherd had returned from tending to the horses. She seemed to spend more time with the horses than the people, since starting this way. "Why the anxiousness?"
"Why not the anxiousness?" Cassian mused aloud. "Not much here to stick around for."
Bit by bit the group settled in for the night. With the chores all done, there wasn't much else to do. Teague stretched out, listening to the deeper breathing of his crew punctuated by the occasional snore, and found himself drifting off at last.